As traditional custodians of the land, Aboriginal peoples have a unique role to care for and manage Country. This role overlaps with the legislative and policy responsibilities the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has to manage land for conservation.
Joint management is a partnership arrangement that recognises local Aboriginal people’s cultural association with a park or reserve and ensures their involvement in its management. It is established through a written agreement between OEH and Aboriginal communities. Each agreement requires the two parties to work together and share responsibility for the management of a particular park or reserve.
Partnerships benefit from mutual interests and responsibilities, and recognise that:
- National parks are part of Aboriginal peoples’ Country and are places where Aboriginal people can care for and access their Country and its natural and cultural resources. With Aboriginal peoples’ history of dispossession in New South Wales, public land and parks have an important role in maintaining Aboriginal peoples’ culture and connection to Country.
- Aboriginal communities obtain cultural, social, health and economic benefits through being involved in park management.
- OEH is better able to protect and interpret cultural heritage and apply Aboriginal knowledge to land management and the conservation of cultural and natural values when working in partnership with Aboriginal communities.
- Visitors to parks have an enriched experience through interaction with Aboriginal peoples and an understanding of Aboriginal cultural values.